Christmas Message from Saracens CEO, Lucy Wray
Lose your focus in top level sport… and you’re done!
This year has been about being exceptionally disciplined and focusing on what really matters to us. Whilst we are always looking forward and relentless about how we can do everything just 1% better across the board; sometimes it is good to reflect and take a moment to look at what has been achieved.
There was one article this year that made me feel really proud to play a small part in what this great club stands for.
Nick Auterac, a former Saracens player, wrote an article for Rugby Inside Line and said “The only organisation or coaches that I know that looked at other top sports from around the world is Saracens. Arguably the best club team over the past decade and if you’ve been in any way involved in their setup, you’ll understand why they’ve been so successful.”
“From my time there, they were unique. Saracens were American-like in looking after their players and running the organisation. Saracens had a way in which every member of the organisation were all on the same page and had a connected drive to achieve what they have done. All that came back to was a ‘people first’ mentality.”
With this in mind, I'd like to take a look back on the year that was, and celebrate the significant achievements across our group.
A YEAR OF EVERYTHING SARACENS... LET'S REFLECT!
• That special drop goal from Owen in the last minute of the game against Gloucester gave us all an away victory to savour. The arm in the air said it all…
• May Campbell made her 100th appearance for the club
• Jackson Wray played his 300th (!) game for Saracens
• Our Foundation launched ‘Sporting Roots’ to support refugees
• SO much young talent to look forward to with plenty of age-grade international call-ups!
- Our England U20’s - Charlie Bracken, Tobias Elliott and Nathan Michelow.
- Our England U18’s - Barnaby Merrett, Olamide Sodeke, Tayo Adegbemile, Charlie West, Jack Bracken, Angus Hall and Charlie Griffin
• We were nominated and shortlisted for TWO Sports Industry Awards
• Saracens Women inflicted our first defeat of the season on Gloucester-Hartpury at Kingsholm
• We celebrated our 10-year Anniversary at StoneX Stadium, along with a food drive to support our amazing local community
• The Duel, our Saracens Women's big game against Harlequins had a record attendance of 2,992
• The Showdown 3 – 55,000 people in attendance! I am SO proud of all the staff who made this happen
- Plus a record-breaking TV audience of 1.5M
• We also celebrated the young life of Oscar who sadly lost his battle with cancer. Oscar’s oncologist wrote to the club and said “I am truly grateful to all of you for demonstrating how compassionate, kind, caring and unifying the rugby community can be.”
• Knock-out rugby was back at StoneX Stadium with our Champions Cup Last Sixteen win v Ospreys
• An epic one goal victory for the Mavericks on the road against Leeds Rhinos
• We SOLD OUT our fixture for Mavericks against Surrey Storm. We would go on to sell out three more fixtures in the season!
• A great day hosting BUCS Final at StoneX
• Saracens Men booked their place in the Premiership Final
• The incredible Sasha Corbin retired from netball
• Duncan Taylor and Jackson Wray played their final matches - incredible people who will always stay close to the club and epitomise what it means to be a Saracen
• Mark McCall was named Director of Rugby of the Season at the Premiership Awards
• An unbeaten season at StoneX Stadium for our Men’s team
• The return of the Supporters’ Awards
• And finally, WE WON OUR 6TH PREMIERSHIP TITLE!
• Premiership Women’s Rugby launched – the start of an incredible journey
• 13 Saracens Men’s players were named in Rugby World Cup squads
• Our average crowd attendance for Women’s matches grew by 73% from 2021/22 to 2022/23
• Our Foundation launched ‘Love 2 Balance’- a programme supporting older adults in care homes
• Our Saracens Work Experience Programme launched, targeted at opening up the rugby industry to a wider socio-demographic population
- A plethora of great signings for our Women’s rugby squad - Sophie Bridger, Rosie Galligan, Sophie de Goede & Emma Taylor
- Our first year of GCSE results at Saracens High School where 77% of pupils achieved 4-9 (A-C) grades versus a national average of 67% (which includes independent schools) and there was no gap in attainment between those students on pupil premium and those not - INCREDIBLE
• Club icons Duncan Taylor and Mo Botha announced as new backs coach and forwards coach/defence coach for Saracens Women
• Some fantastic signings for our Saracens Mavericks team - Emma Thacker, Ellie Rattu, Peace Akinyemi & Vicki Oyesola
• Rugby World Cup FEVER starts
• ‘Build from within’ focus with school partnerships and a flourishing partnership with Ampthill
• We launched on TikTok and the most viewed clip is still Maro singing TikiTonga with over 330,000 views!
• We announced a partnership with TREK
• The return of our annual Seasonal Members pre-season gathering
• Owen became England’s top points scorer with 1237 points from 112 caps
• Wembley announcement - our first netball arena fixture at the OVO Arena Wembley. This will be played on Sunday 7th April 2024 against Manchester Thunder. We will be aiming to have our biggest crowd ever for the Mavericks, with over 3,000 people!
• Contract renewals of Ben Earl, Andy Christie and Nick Isiekwe
• Big win v Quins on the road – it felt GOOD!
• Nigel Eaton does the double – made it to the Women’s match at StoneX with a 2pm Kick-Off and then to The Stoop for the Men’s game for a 5.30pm Kick-Off!
• Marlie Packer named World Player of the Year
• Largest crowd ever for an opening Saracens Women’s Premiership home game with 1,200people attending
• We love you Owen!
• Throughout 2023, we have landed several EDI initiatives with one of them being: The Blood from a StoneX campaign
• Vicki Oyesola awarded England Netball Vitality Roses contract
• Jodie Gibson named Mavericks Captain and Georgia Lees named Vice-Captain
• Ella Wyrwas awarded full-time Red Roses Contract
• Renewed partnerships with Simba and Hypro
• Saracens Women’s team end the year at the top of the table after an amazing win v Bristol!
• Saracens Men finish for Christmas right in the mix in both the Premiership and Europe, ready for a massive second half of the season!
• The average occupancy at StoneX finishes the year on 91% - 6% up on last year like for like
• We are averaging 22% of the crowds at StoneX being U16 which is vitally important for the Sarries Family of the future
• Saracens Foundation are on track to achieve the target of investing £1.8M into projects supporting our local communities in the 2023/24 season.
- This represents a growth of 38% year-on-year. They are also on target to impact the lives of over 90K people, providing an improvement in their health, education or employment
• The Group have been working on our 'Saracens in Seven' strategy, which is our aim to be carbon net zero by 2030; zero waste to landfill and 75% waste recycled by 2030 and to boost biodiversity across our stadium by 2030.
- Towards the end of the season, we have been collecting data to support us in creating a rigorous footprint of our carbon emissions. We have recently received this baseline data, which shows that our group carbon footprint is 11,575TCO2E. Our carbon footprint is equivalent to 911 UK households. The Saracens Group will now be working on a carbon reduction plan to achieve our ambition of being carbon net zero by 2030
There is SO MUCH to achieve in the next 12 months!
However, we will always put people first in all our decision making and everyone at Saracens wants to make our fans proud!
We will never lose that focus.
Have a wonderful Christmas Sarries Family. Let’s see what 2024 may bring…